An Astros’ style cup of coffee

I like my coffee like I like my Astros …

Weak, tepid, and accompanying all those donuts (on the scoreboard).

Yep, it’s been that kind of week or so.

Right now I’m hoping we don’t get the 1-1 pick next summer mainly because I’m afraid to watch how it will blow up in our faces. “Captain” Carlos Correa is on crutches, and despite what Luhnow says, I’m sure this will delay his promotion to Houston by a half season or more. Plus, if it limits his range, we now have a great third-base prospect. Le sigh!

More on the 1-1 front: Mark Appel either REALLY misses his appendix or REALLY hates pitching every fifth day. Either way, his 2014 is making everyone wonder how this guy got to the top of the draft board two years in a row. (A little sugar in this cup of coffee: He’s allowed just 3 ER in each of his last three 5-inning starts. So, there’s that.)

Brady Aiken won’t be atop anyone’s draft board in 2015. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s because he’ll either be signed at a bargain ($5 million) price or go to college and not be eligible in 2015.

At least these injuries aren’t affecting our major league club. Jason Castro‘s ready to get behind the plate … Wait, what? Alex Presley might be looking at the DL. He’ll be joining “Aluminium Man” Dexter Fowler. I won’t even get into our bullpen, which could be great if our closer could find the mound (Jesse Crain) and our set-up man got back from the DL (Matt Albers).

Speaking of pitchers, how is Collin McHugh‘s middle finger?

All these injuries and Chris Carter can’t get a hangnail? Now that’s just bad luck.

So, is there any good news out of AstroWorld? (I know, that one hurt you Houstonians.)

Well, Domingo Santana did a spit-take with his cup of coffee, but apparently Kike Hernandez is enjoying a fine Frappuccino. The kid is hitting .364 after a week in The Show. Unsustainable? Sure. But right now I’m loving me some Kike.

Jose Altuve was selected for the AL All-Star team, and this was a deserving pick. He’s on pace for more than 220 hits and somewhere north of 60 stolen bases. Oh, and if all that happens he’ll be in the running for the AL batting title.

Dallas Keuchel is on the vote-in ballot for the final spot. He won’t make it, but there is a chance (“Dumb and Dumber” anyone) the Astros have two All-Stars. Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it.

But after a week of losses (swept by Seattle and the L.A. Suburb), it’s nice to have some good news.

So, with my coffee cup half full (as opposed to half empty), here are a few easy trivia questions that should make you feel better about the Astros after a hard week.

1. How many straight games have the Astros won over the Rangers?

2. Who is leading Houston in Wins?

3. Who are Houston’s three best outfielders based on batting average? Based on OPS?

4. Among all players, who leads Houston in Slugging Percentage?

5. Who leads the Astros in striking out?

6. Do any Astros have more extra-base hits than strikeouts?

7. Do Houston’s starters have a combined ERA above or below 4.00?

8. Do Houston’s relievers have a combined ERA above or below 5.50?

9. Have the Astros used more or less than 25 pitchers this season?

10. Have the Astros used more or less than 20 position players this season?


Now some ponderings as you drink your morning cup of coffee (or tea if you’re British):

* Are the Astros snake bit by injuries, or has this just been a bad week (month)?

* Will our 1-1 mess sort itself out in the end? Will Correa rebound next year? Will Appel find the lower half of the strike zone? Will Aiken get signed and, even if he needs Tommy John surgery, come back in late 2015 ready to rehab?

* What is your Astros silver lining? Or keeping with the coffee theme, what flavor of cream is sweetening your Astros cup? Or do you just taste bitter grounds?

* For those of you who can’t watch the games, do you even care after this week?


46 comments on “An Astros’ style cup of coffee

  1. Brian, I am going to answer without looking first
    2. Cosart
    3.Hernandez, Gonzalez, Presley in no order.
    4. Hernandez
    5. Springer
    6. Yes
    7. above
    8. Below
    10. less
    Dang it, those are hard. I I’ll be lucky if I got three of them right.


  2. *The Astros are not snakebit by injuries, they just have no depth at the majors or AAA, so the injuries hurt more.
    *I don’t know about Aiken. He has choices. The Astros are in a bind about Nix’s signing. If they lose both, next years draft will be doubly important. Do the Astros want Luhnow to be running that draft as GM if he’s blown this one? I’m thinking Correa will be ready in 2016. I want Appel in CC as soon as possible. Get him out of that hellhole and under Gary Ruby’s wing!
    * My silver lining is that we have a low payroll and enough prospects to acquire another starting major leaguer to put in our lineup for next year at the trade deadline. The lead lining is that the plan supercedes everything and we see nothing but underaged, second-tier prospects in our lineup and a 65 win team next year.
    * I care about the Astros and I don’t give a hoot about the All-Star Game


  3. The Cards signed free agent reliever Pat Neshek to a 1 year, $1 million contract in February. He is an All-Star today
    Some GM’s just have it and show it time and time again.
    Some don’t, and they still get credit anyway.


    • I wonder if Luhnow had thrown Jerome Williams money at Neshak if he could have lured him to Houston. The thing about Ambers, Crain, and Qualls is that they all had a previous connection to Houston. The best selling points to any other relievers would be:
      1. Expect lots of innings available to you as our starters don’t go deep
      2. Do well and we’ll gladly trade you into a pennant race


    • Not from me. The injury question: we have not had that many. The GM took a chance on Crain and lost. He gets the blame. Had it ended up being an astute signing, he would have gotten the credit. Albers came to work fat. No way he weighed in at 225 in April. Did anyone take him to dinner before the contract got signed? Golden Corral maybe? Fowler is good for about 130 games a year. We all knew that. Feldman is on pace for 29 starts. He’s only done that twice. We’ve had a healthier rotation than most clubs. Castro has not been on the DL. Snake bit? No.

      The 1.1 mess will certainly sort itself out at some point. In the meantime, we’ll get bits and pieces of innuendo, rumor and information from the Heymans and boperts of this world because our GM also does not feel it important to keep his fan base informed.

      No doubt Correa will rebound. He’s a kid who will heal fast. Appel maybe not so fast. Assuming he’s healthy, he’s probably dealing with failure for the first time. I hope he’s got his head screwed on straight. Plenty of first round misses over the years. If I had to guess, Aiken will not be making a decision. I’d also guess his father is not feeling too good about the Houston Astros by now.

      There is no silver lining. Like I said yesterday. This franchise is a mess. But I’ll keep watching because by my count, there are about five or six guys on the present roster with a solid future ahead of them. Should be more by now though, right?


    • Other than the 40-man roster thing, why not Austin Wates? He strikes out much less. He’s hitting good. I just think we’ve seen plenty of Grossman.


      • Brian, agree fully. But Luhnow is obviously high on the guy based on the extension offered to him. Or maybe he’s shopping Grossman at this point. Who knows? But give Wates a shot.


  4. * Snake-bit? No, injuries hit all teams. We just have less depth, so it seems to affect us more. Now if we start losing players to freak accidents off the field [a la Berkman, Hidalgo, rookie Pence, etc.] that’s when we will need to call St. Patrick for a quick cup of . . . well, for a cup of whatever Irish Saints drink these days.
    * Our 1-1 situation could resolve tomorrow with a signing somewhere between 5M and 6.whatever. If Brady has to have T-John, so be it. Put a clause in the contract that says the ‘Stros can deduct twice the estimated cost of a TJ surgery and foreseeable rehab from the signing bonus and hold it in escrow, subject to be paid to either him or the ‘Stros based on his performance in 2015 and/or 2016. I’ll bet he works hard at rehab! As for Correa, he’ll be fine. if he has to move to third due to mobility issues, he’s still the best prospect we’ve seen in a long, long time.
    * Silver lining? Let me just say that “I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee, and . . . .”


  5. I’ve been out of touch all day – Brian – here are my best guesses
    1. How many straight games have the Astros won over the Rangers?

    2. Who is leading Houston in Wins?

    3. Who are Houston’s three best outfielders based on batting average? Based on OPS?
    BA – Fowler, Presley, Springer
    OPS – Fowler, Springer Hoes

    4. Among all players, who leads Houston in Slugging Percentage?

    5. Who leads the Astros in striking out?
    Springer (he’s leading the league last time I looked)

    6. Do any Astros have more extra-base hits than strikeouts?
    Since Altuve has only struck out in the 20’s – I say he does

    7. Do Houston’s starters have a combined ERA above or below 4.00?

    8. Do Houston’s relievers have a combined ERA above or below 5.50?
    Barely below?

    9. Have the Astros used more or less than 25 pitchers this season?
    Man – tough question – I think just over

    10. Have the Astros used more or less than 20 position players this season?
    Just under


  6. Wow! How bad is Lancaster playing? In two innings they have given up 6 runs to the worst team in the league. Evan Grills has hit 2 batters, walked one, given up three hits, Pena has a passed ball and Austin Elkins has two big fielding errors. That team has just imploded in the second half.


    • After Grills got bombed out of the game, JetHawks #1starter and 14th ranked prospect Josh Hader came into the game in relief, and got bombed. Lancaster had climbed back to within a run and Hader gave up four.
      Lancaster was 44-26 in the first half and is 6-13 in the second half.


  7. These are hard questions. Best defense is a good offense, so I’ll counter with questions of my own:

    1) Who’s leading the majors in slugging % for players with over 150 AB’s?

    2) Who’s 2nd in OPS in the majors behind Troy Tulowitzki?

    Hint: It’s not Trout, Cabrera, McCutchen, Cruz, Abreu, Stanton, Bautista, Puig.

    Giveaway hint: It’s not Robbie Grossman whom the Astros tried to lock up for life this Spring.


    • It’s Cabrera’s teammate, of whom DanP predicts we will see in the rainbow stripes next season! But…Trout and Cruz are right there with him.

      Dallas Keuchel is in fifth place for AS votes. We aren’t doing a very good job stuffing the box.


  8. Another win on Wednesday and we’re tied with the StRangers for the cellar.

    Yep, just another lame milestone on the road to respectability.


  9. I have to admit that in last night’s 1st inning, I saw two of the worst “bonehead” plays I have ever seen. Ranger catcher fails to throw to first in time on a dropped 3rd strike, and then Altuve gets picked off 3rd for NO reason. Kids know better than that in Pony League.


  10. Nope, not Victor Martinez. It’s his “little brother” JD Martinez, checking in with a gaudy OPS of 1.017 and a slugging % of .651. There is not question the Astros gave up on him too early (he ripped through the minors, was brought up too early and struggled) but it’s hard to understand how anybody could have foreseen him going nuts like this.


    • If someone would sit down with JD and ask him what held him back in the Astros organization and what needs to be done to make things better here I would listen to that. If what he said was not nice, I would listen to that, without calling it sour grapes because JD does not seem to talk much. How can you fix it if you don’t find out what is broken?


      • I think the answer is the Astros just didn’t give him time. Time to mature in the minors. Time to recoup and rehab from his injuries. Time to get to the plate during spring training.

        Imagine how this team would be different with him in left field or at DH.


    • JD is still buyer beware. His BABIP is unsustainable. He is not walking at a higher rate, his contact numbers are consistent with his past, he is still striking out more than once every 4 at bats. He got hot. There is an inevitable course correction due.

      Just ask ZIPS, who project numbers based on contact rates – according to them he should be hitting .276 with 7 homeruns, as opposed to .331 with 12. Now, I think the Astros gave up on him, and you can even skim back to sometime in February or March where I suggested the Astros give him the LF job before ST, I do like him, but before Tiger fans jump on the bandwagon and annoint this guy the LFer of the future they should prepare for the course correction.

      I do agree that he is yet another player that is proving that once he is free of a bad team, and then tastes a little success somewhere else, you see his confidence start to soar, and in baseball confidence begets success.


  11. He had almost 1000 at bats with the Astros. It certainly would be enlightening to hear what the guy might have to say about his days with this franchise.

    The culture of the organization, working environment, expertise; these are all things that impact a guy. Martinez always seemed to be pressing with the Astros. I’d guess he’s pretty sensitive guy too. I’d also guess he did not get a whole bunch of positive reinforcement.

    Pretty obvious that Ausmus saw something in the guy that many others missed. Me included. His swing sure does look better. Much shorter and quicker. And he does have the advantage of playing in a stacked lineup. But watching him play a couple of weeks ago….he was having fun out there, smiling, even looked more confident in left.

    I don’t think he had a whole lot of fun playing here.


  12. I just remember the TV color done by Bagwell when JD and Altuve came up. He said about both of them – “they can hit, they hit at every stop.” And I have no memory of his saying that about Paredes. If Stan Musial came up today, they would NEVER allow him to hit from around the corner.


  13. Hey, lefthanded knuckleballer Blaine Sims has moved up to Quad Cities from Tri City and gets his first start there today. I love the idea of a lefty knuckleballer. Working it out w/ 13 BBs in 17 innings but an ERA around 3.00 so few are hitting it hard. Let’s see how it goes with QC. I wonder if Jake Rodriguez has a sofa cushion to catch with.


  14. Is it just me, or is Joe Mauer doing a standup job killing his own hometown team? I guess he is trying to prove why 8 year deals at 23+ mil a year are dangerous.


  15. Took three from the Strangers. Corporan is doing well as the starter. Maybe when Castro comes back he can DH and leave Corporan at C


    • Quietly, Chris Carter is on a little hot streak and our little punching bag, Robbie Grossman, was 4-5 last night. Maybe there is a sliver of hope for some of these guys.


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